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Lycopene Nutrition Food and Supplement Sources

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. Nor is any of the information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.

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The case histories and personal testimonies are for your information only and they do not infer, represent or claim that anyone else will receive the same or any benefits. Each individual is different and therefore results will vary based upon these differences. Each person needs to determine the value of these supplements for themselves.

Lycopene - Overview

Today, science has a better understanding of why fruits and vegetables should be part of a healthy eating plan. You probably enjoy them for their wonderful flavors and bright colors. But, fruits and vegetables are good for you too. An eating pattern packed with plenty of fruits and vegetables includes two to three servings of fruits and three to five servings of vegetables each day.

Fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients including antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and lycopene. Antioxidants have disease-fighting properties that protect cells from damage by substances called free radicals. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals that are formed when body cells burn oxygen for energy. Antioxidants also may help keep the immune system healthy and reduce the risk for cancer and other diseases.

What is lycopene?

There has been much scientific studies and research done on the heath bennefits of Lycopene. Lycopene is a pigment that gives vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon, their red color. It also appears to have strong antioxidant capabilities. Several studies and research suggest that consumption of foods rich in lycopene is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In a 1995 Harvard University study conducted with 47,894 men, researchers found that eating 10 or more servings a week of tomato products was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer by as much as 34 percent.

The protective effect of antioxidants on heart disease has been well documented. In a recently published study, men who had the highest amount of lycopene in their body fat were half as likely to suffer a heart attack as those with the least amount of lycopene in their body fat. Researchers have determined that the level of lycopene in body fat is an indicator of lycopene content in the diet.

Where do I find lycopene?

Lycopene is not produced in the body, so you can only obtain its benefits by eating foods rich in lycopene or supplementing with Vitamins containing Lycopene. Tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, ketchup and pizza sauce are, by far, the major sources of lycopene in the typical American diet. In fact, these foods provide over 80 percent of the lycopene consumed in the U.S. Other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and pink grapefruit also provide lycopene but in smaller amounts. Lycopene is better absorbed by the body when it is consumed in processed tomato products, rather than fresh tomatoes. The reason for this remains unclear. In one study lycopene was absorbed 2.5 times better from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. However, cooking fresh tomatoes with a little oil greatly increases lycopene absorption.

FOOD SOURCES OF LYCOPENE

Food Item Lycopene in milligrams
Tomato Soup, 1 cup 24.8 mg
Tomato or Spaghetti Sauce, ½ cup 19.4 mg
Canned Tomatoes, ½ cup 11.8 mg
Watermelon, 1 cup 7.8 mg
Ketchup, 2 tablespoons 5.1 mg
Fresh Tomato, 1 medium 3.7 mg
Pink or Red Grapefruit, ½ cup 1.8 mg

Source: USDA/NCC Carotenoid Database for U.S. Foods -- 1998 & Tomato Research Council.

Convenient ways to increase your consumption of lycopene: Now that you know about the potential health benefits from eating foods rich in lycopene, try some of the following tips to add it to your diet:

•For a quick and simple dinner choice, open a jar of tomato-based sauce and pour over your favorite pasta. Top with steamed vegetables or grated cheese.

•When making your own spaghetti sauce, include some tomato paste and a small amount of olive oil.

•Enjoy tomato or vegetable juice as a refreshing and healthful snack.

•When choosing soups…think tomato!

•Watermelon makes a light, fat-free dessert.

•Wake up your tastebuds with fresh pink grapefruit along with your favorite breakfast.

Lycopene Supplement Futher Studies and Research

Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain lycopene. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with their pharmacist or health care provider before starting.

Health Benefits Evidence

Lycopene is a carotenoid found in certain vegetables, particularly in tomatoes and tomato-based products. Scientists have studied lycopene for the following health problems:

Cancer prevention

Several studies suggest that eating vegetables rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes or tomato-based products, may reduce the risk of getting breast, cervical, gastrointestinal, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. Whether lycopene prevents cancer or whether healthy dietary habits in general are key factors in cancer prevention is not clear. Better studies are needed to provide more definitive answers.

Antioxidant

Animal studies report that lycopene possesses antioxidant properties. In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, 60 healthy volunteers, men and women older than 40 years, increased the amount of lycopene in their diets for 15 days. The volunteers consumed either Campbell's condensed tomato soup, Campbell's Ready-to-Serve tomato soup or V8 vegetable juice. At the end of the 15 days, the authors found that 15 days of tomato product significantly enhanced the protection from added oxidative stress. However, antioxidant findings have not been observed in most studies in humans. More research is needed.

Sun Protection

Lycopene in combination with other carotenoids may help to reduce sunburn. In a small randomized, controlled clinical trial, 12 patients were given either 24 milligrams per day of beta-carotene or 24 milligrams per day of a combination of beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene (eight milligrams per day each) and exposed to solar light. The authors found that supplementation for 12 weeks with 24 milligrams per day of a combination of carotenoids improves ultraviolet-induced sunburn and is comparable to the treatment with 24 milligrams per day of beta-carotene.

In another randomized, controlled clinical trial, the effects of a product containing a combination of antioxidants were studied. The antioxidant combination called Seresis contained beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C and E, selenium and proanthocyanidins. Healthy young female volunteers were given Seresis, and selected protective effects from ultraviolet rays were observed. More studies in humans are needed to make a conclusion. Prevention of macular degeneration Lycopene has been studied as prevention for age-related macular degeneration, but there are no clear answers in this area. Further research is needed before lycopene can be recommended.

Exercise-induced Asthma

One study in humans suggests that taking lycopene by mouth may reduce exercise-induced asthma. This study was small with design flaws. Better studies are needed to provide more definitive answers.

Atherosclerosis, high cholesterol

Multiple studies suggest lycopene may reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and may reduce high cholesterol. However, different studies have produced results that do not agree with each other. More research is needed to determine whether lycopene may be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Immune stimulation

Current evidence suggests that lycopene does not enhance the function of the immune system.

Unproven Uses

Lycopene has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before taking lycopene for any unproven use.

AIDS
Cataracts
Cognitive function
Diabetes
Gum disease
Heart attack prevention
Inflammatory diseases
Pancreatitis
Parkinson's disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Stroke prevention

Side Effects and Potential Dangers

Allergies

Side Effects

No side effects have been reported from eating Lycopene tomato-based products or by taking Lycopene food nutrition supplements.

Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding

Lycopene supplements are not recommended in pregnant or breast-feeding women because of a lack of scientific data. Lycopene and its breakdown products are present in breast milk, but whether this has any effect on developing infants is not known.

Interactions

Interactions with drugs, supplements and other herbs have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with your health care provider or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.

Interactions With Drugs

In theory, Lycopene may increase the cholesterol-lowering effects of drugs such as lovastatin (Mevacor), or use of drugs such as lovastatin may decrease levels of lycopene in the blood. This possible interaction has not been well studied. Other drugs that theoretically may reduce lycopene levels include cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as cholestyramine (Questran, Prevalite) and colestipol (Cholestid), as well as nicotine and alcohol.

Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements

Lycopene and beta-carotene may affect each other's blood levels when taken together. However, it is unclear whether levels may increase or decrease, because of varying study results. When canthaxanthin is used with lycopene, the levels of lycopene may be significantly decreased. The consequences of this interaction are not clear. Laboratory studies have found interactions between lycopene and other vitamins or supplements. The significance of these possible interactions in humans is not known. Examples include increased inhibition of growth in cancer-like cells when used with vitamin D or vitamin E and increased antioxidant effects when combined with lutein.

Lycopene Dosage

The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care provider before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas. No specific amounts of lycopene or lycopene-rich vegetables have been clearly established for many conditions. Therefore, no specific dosing recommendations can be made.

For Exercise-Induced Asthma

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

A dose of 30 milligrams daily by mouth has been reported in scientific studies.

Children (Younger Than 18)

The dosing and safety of Lycopene have not been studied thoroughly in children, and lycopene cannot be recommended for any use.

For Atherosclerosis

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)
A dose of 1.243 grams of 6 percent lycopene oleoresin daily by mouth has been reported in scientific studies.

For Enhancement Of Immune Function

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

A dose of 13.3 milligrams of Lycopene daily by mouth has been reported in scientific studies.

For Sun Protection

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)
A dose of eight milligrams of Lycopene in combination with other antioxidants taken by mouth for 12 weeks has been studied for sun protection.

Feature Lycopene Food Supplement:
Vitacel 9 GH9 Plus Lycopene + CoQ10 + L-carnitine

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